Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Time is in such short supply—more than ever in the 21st century, since we lead such multi-tasking lives. We are so often not present in the moments and minutes of the present and passing hours. T.S. Elliot wrote that “all time is unredeemable,” but I think the hour of morning light we gain in the autumn when we “fall back” is an exception to his observation. After all, time is the medium we all have to work with.

Yesterday I received the best gift of the year: the gift on an hour, as we turned our clocks back an hour and reverted to  Standard Time when Daylight Saving Time ended at 2 a.m. yesterday, November 3. I woke up rested on Sunday morning and did not rush in order to have a coffee and get dressed for church. I sat with The Husband at our breakfast nook and took time to be present, to be mindful and to connect. We discussed the unexpected pleasure of spending an evening with all four sons and two of the special women in their lives Saturday night as we celebrated the birthday of Son Number Three. We acknowledged the gratitude we feel about being  in a moment when our children are each happy and doing well, and we marveled at how easy the dinner and conversation had been. We took time to recognize that we had been treated with the respect reserved for those who are part of an older generation. We took time to have a conversation where we each gave the other that rare gift of not rushing the talk and truly being in the moment.

I understand the century of controversy about whether we should move our clocks forward in the spring to have longer evenings with daylight, then move them back in autumn to have an extra hour of morning daylight. In theory, the change in time helps North Americans adjust to weather changes. The days are shorter now, and by turning the clock back by an hour we all get one more hour of daylight. Morning light is the most important light for synchronizing our circadian rhythms. Kantermann, et al., found that the timing of both sleep and peak activity levels readily adjusts to the return to Standard Time in autumn, but that the timing of activity does not adjust to the start of Daylight Saving Time in spring.

Of course, there is always payback: The loss of an hour of sleep in the spring when we move our clocks ahead by an hour. This year it occurred on Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m.  Daylight Saving Time has been documented to alter sleep patterns for weeks, affecting mood, job performance, health, and the severity of auto accidents.

But this week we have the gift of an hour and the enhanced health benefits of extra sleep that come with it. Sleep has been described as the “mysterious one third of our existence.” Many of us are constantly in search of getting enough sleep and feel as though we are frequently not well rested when we get out of bed on many days. Certainly for those of us who feel that we never deposit enough time for sleep into our life account, this change-of-time day in the autumn each year is a glorious gift.

 

Also by Dr. Patricia Allen: 

The Annual Sleep-Loss Day by Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D.

6207737939_5e41dce9b2“My hour of morning light has been moved to the evening for people who want to walk or bicycle in the evening light. I wish these people would just go to the gym or do a Jane Fonda workout video indoors and leave my morning hour of sleep alone.”

 

Daylight Saving Time is Bad for the Heart, Or At Least the Soul by Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D.

DrallenDaylight Saving Time begins officially on the second Sunday of March each year and ends on the first Sunday in November.  On Sunday, time changed at 2 a.m. with the clocks pushed ahead by one hour, moving my hour of morning light to the evening. This diabolical plan allows the sun […]

 

 

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